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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Here’s a statement that seemed unlikely just a few months ago: the Sacramento Kings are about to begin the 2013-14 season.

“It’s a new era,” owner Vivek Ranadive has declared over and over since buying the Kings from the Maloof family.

The Kings are coming off their seventh straight losing season and are just beginning a rebuilding project that’s likely years away from completion. Ranadive is trying to lay a solid foundation first — right down to fixing all the potholes in the parking lot of Sacramento’s suburban arena.

The new owner’s first major move was making center DeMarcus Cousins the franchise player by signing him to a four-year, $62 million extension. The Kings are counting on Cousins, who has drawn multiple suspensions from the NBA and the team for his behavior, to keep his cool and show he can lead the franchise’s new era.

“I’ve got big shoulders, so I can handle that,” said Cousins, drafted fifth overall in 2010 after one season at Kentucky. “I consider myself a leader on this team, so I take all the responsibility that comes with it. I’ve had pressure from the beginning, so I don’t have a problem with it. I was doing it in the beginning, so I definitely don’t have a problem doing it now.”

Nobody disputes Cousins’ talent. He averaged 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game last season and, at times, looked dominant against the NBA’s best big men. But he has struggled with defense and discipline, and he couldn’t co-exist with coaches Keith Smart or Paul Westphal. If Cousins can control his emotions and channel his talent, he could be the key cog in Sacramento’s resurrection.

5 Responses to DeMarcus Cousins takes “responsibility” for contract, leadership

  • JimHarris says:

    I loved Demarcus as a Cat even tho at times he acted like a spoiled brat that needed a good swift boot. It’s been a surprise to me that even in the Bigs he’s not “outgrown” some of his childishness–and a disappointment. Yeah, I still pull for him to be as great as I know he can be.

    But right now I’d be very hesitant to spend $62M and plan my franchise around him. Reason? He still hasn’t demonstrated the maturity to be a solid leader among men.

    Sorta like our UK new football program. Things are looking up, but everything remains to be proven.

  • Kevin says:

    I have to disagree with you JimHarris. There are very few players in the NBA that I’d prefer to have over Cuz. He is big, strong, and ultra talented. The concerns over his “childishness” is overblown. He is a great person and as such represents your team well in the community. He just gave a Million bucks to charity. Those that say he is immature are still holding his high school years against him. He has had no more problems that most people in the NBA. He has had far less than some like Beasley.

  • King Ghidora says:

    Like everything else in the NBA players get stuck with a rep that they can never shake. Cousins has not acted that badly. He just gets watched more than other players because the fans seem to want to see what they expect based on what they read in the press. He isn’t the first player I’ve seen get railroaded by the NBA establishment. They are in the entertainment business so they have to have their bad guys. It’s like pro wrestling. Cuz is playing the part of the hooded Arab which goes back to the earliest times I saw that drivel on tv as a kid. It probably goes back much farther.

    You can’t tell me Cuz is worse than players that choke their coach or run into the stands to attack fans. It just ain’t true. Yet those guys get more positive press than Cuz. How’s that work? Simple. Pro basketball is played by a formula. Heck the fans didn’t even get upset when they found out the refs had been fixing games with their calls. Practically no one tuned the league out over a horrendously corrupt act like that. And you know what. Those guys that did it didn’t get as much bad press as Cousins does.

    Some pro players have went with the bad boy image since they were stuck with it anyway. Dennis Rodman comes to mind. If you ever watched Detroit play in the days of Laimbeer and Rodman and Rasheed Wallace. Those guys were incredibly dirty but they never got the suspensions Cousins gets. Thomas wasn’t much better on that team and was seen as an instigator in a big way. Yet they won a title with that kind of play. And Cousins doesn’t play anything like those guys did.

    It’s a setup. It’s a hatchet job. I’ve seen other UK players, like Mel Turpin, get shafted the same way. Turpin was supremely talented yet he was never allowed to shine in the NBA while lesser players were given everything. A quick look at Turpin’s stats at UK will show you he was a very talented player. He shot 60% from the field for his career. He got 6 rebounds a game playing on a team with Sam Bowie and Kenny Walker. She shared the scoring with those guys too but Mel was an incredible shooter from the high post. He didn’t get his points on layups, dunks and put backs. He shot the ball with the best of them. Yet the NBA pretty much trashed him and branded him a bad attitude. I would be too if they treated me that way.

    I know some people don’t want to hear this but the media hates UK and UK players and they will tear them down every chance they get. Cousins was unfairly labelled a thug by Dick Vitale and the label has stuck since then. Now they watch his every move for the slightest misstep and they ring him up for everything. That wil give you a bad attitude pretty soon.

    This is the reason I hate the NBA. I never watch them play unless I see a former Cat playing. I watch the playoffs sometimes but not often. It’s a dirty organization that picks their favorites and spits on everyone else. They treated Dan Issel terrible. How is it a guy who’s number 8 on the all time pro scoring list isn’t one of the top 50 players to play in the NBA? Simple. He played at Kentucky.

    I hope Cuz turns his career around but the chances of that happening are low because the league won’t let him. Blame it all on Vitale is what I say. We all saw that Louisville game where he got kicked in the head but the slight reaction he had was talked about for years. Watch the video. It shows clearly he was kicked hard before he reacted but still he was restrained considering the dirty play UL used on him. They set out to get him ejected but couldn’t. Other teams tried it and failed too. He got punched deliberately in the groin and he didn’t punch back. Any man that can do that is not a thug.

    I really have no use for the national media that ruins players with allegations baseed on nothing and I have no use for the league that follows the cues of the media so they can have their bad guys and good guys. Let’s face it. They gave Jordan every break on earth. They gave Shaq his own circle where he could knock people off the floor and then dunk the ball. That league stinks to high heaven. I like it that they give our UK players big money at times but for the most part they treat UK players terrible. Look at Rondo. They are making him out to be a thug now. The stupid crap never ends in the NBA.

  • King Ghidora says:

    I did a little experiment just now to see if there’s evidence of my theory. I did a Google search using the terms “Rondo” and “thug”. Here’s the page that came up:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=rondo+thug&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    There are countless articles calling him a thug because he has an attitude. Heck half the league has an attitude. But Rondo gets press because of it. He is one of the all time great PG’s to ever play the game and they intend to ruin his career by making him untouchable by any other team. The guy is fantastic and he is not Ron Artest. But they are out to destroy him anyway.

    Looking at any message board on the net that talks about college basketball you quickly see the hatred of UK. The east coast types that think everything good is on the other side of the mountains are especially resentful of UK’s success. This goes back to the Civil War really. Ky didn’t take sides so now the north and the south hate Ky.

    But that makes winning even sweeter IMO. They hate it that UK has so much hardware in the trophy room and I love it that they’re so jealous. Jealousy only comes when you are successful. No one is jealous of the Chicago Cubs.

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